Diversity & Inclusion, Learning & Development

DEI in a Hybrid Environment: What Managers Need to Know

Hybrid work is the new normal. While employees see endless benefits, managers should consider the pitfalls that also come with a part-virtual office, including the detachment of an organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. The radical shift to a virtual workplace that we’ve seen over the past 2 years has challenged DEI efforts across organizations globally, but remote, virtual, and hybrid workplaces are here to stay. Here’s what you need to know.

Be Unambiguous

Managers should first consider the overall workload and if they are able to have a line of sight to success for their teams, both for the employee and the business. If hybrid, it’s easier to manage and support the employees you see on a daily basis, but with remote, sometimes employees’ workload and processes can become “out of sight, out of mind.” Managers should make sure they are not just leaning on the people they see in the office or those who are the loudest in the room. They should take actionable steps to make sure they don’t forget those who don’t have a physical presence, which can have a tremendous impact on DEI efforts.

Carefully crafted, thoroughly planned policies and procedures will make this happen and help create an equitable system and workplace culture. Additionally, clear rules and policies that are unambiguous help ensure fairness and transparency across the board, whether an employee is remote or not.

Develop Daily Habits

DEI work has positive implications to reduce biases and inequitable policies, processes, and systems. But although training is informative, long-term goals may seem out of reach, especially in a hybrid environment. To continue momentum and make progress, create goals you can achieve through tangible actions, and in doing so, managers should consider their daily tactical habits. This can be something as simple as checking in with their team daily and going down the list to make sure they’ve individually connected with everyone, whether in person or remote. It’s up to managers to take a proactive approach across the board rather than simply reacting and waiting for employees to come to them. Again, this can be something as simple as blocking off time or having a standing meeting—just be transparent about the way the process works with everyone.

Acknowledge the Process is Part Art, Part Science

Specific flexibility and remote work varies depending on your company, your business model, and the potential needs of your clients. Therefore, managers should consider the needs of each individual employee, not just the organization as a whole, keeping in mind circumstances vary from employee to employee. That being said, remote and hybrid work comes down to a partnership with your employees. Productivity and profitability should go hand in hand.

Problems and biases arise when managers mistrust their employees and believe that in order to be a successful manager, they have to see what workers are doing and physically be with them. Managers must recognize that each employee is going to work differently, and it’s part of the manager’s job to take that into account in addition to considering the needs of the business. It’s part art and part science, and truthfully, it may take some time to fine-tune.

Develop Checks and Balances

It is easy to get lost in the daily workloads and task juggling of the office, let alone the increased hurdles and demands of a hybrid team. Thus, managers must be intentional about DEI efforts, and those efforts may have to be doubled.

Managers should also be observant of the strengths and weaknesses of their employees and consider gaps, making them aware and being thoughtful and considerate when suggesting ways to improve. Moreover, there should be an evaluation of all the areas of interest and improvement as a procedure, and managers should evaluate diversity and equity in pay, participation, and opportunities, as well as create goals with metrics and milestones for review. Consistent evaluation will ensure progress.

Christie Lindor is a Workplace Culture and Inclusion Expert and principal of Tessi Consulting. Both an author and a speaker, she is a black woman, a first-generation American, and a working mother who spent 20+ years as a management consultant at some of the world’s top companies. She works with midsize and large companies, often organizations embarking on an equity and inclusion journey for the first time, to create high-performing, inclusive workplace cultures.

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